Pottsville Area Votes to Return to Full In-Person Classes
Board members at Pottsville Area School District voted Wednesday to return to full, in-person learning at all its schools through March, despite strong opposition voiced by members and the head of the local teachers union.
The board voted 8-1 in favor of an amended plan that gets Pottsville Area students physically back into class starting March 1.
On March 1, after a period of 4 days in school starting Feb. 18, students at John S. Clarke Elementary School will go back to 5 days in-person learning. A week later, also after a period of 4 days in school, students at DHH Lengel Middle School will go back to 5 days in class. And finally, students at Pottsville Area High School go back to full in-person learning by March 15.
Only board member Ann Blankenhorn opposed the plan.
Pottsville Area Approves Return to Full In-person Instruction
In voting against the plan to get students back to class in-person 5 days a week, Blankenhorn – who stressed her medical background in mental health – said, “I recognize the impact this pandemic has had on children and adolescents. I agree that we’re moving in the right direction but I feel I need more structure, not only around how we’re bringing students back but how we’re cleaning, how we’re managing lunches … I have some strong personal beliefs around that. I agree we have to get our students back but I want to see more.
Supporting the plan were 8 members of the Pottsville Area school board. They acknowledged what they’d heard prior to their vote – strong opposition from the Pottsville Area School District Education Association – but felt their plan was best at this time.
“We are all concerned with the well-being of our children,” Michael Cardamone said. “And we realize we are asking our faculty and staff to assume some level of risk whenever we return to full in-person instruction. We must balance that risk to the academic, social and developmental risks to our students continuing their current mode of instruction.”
Ashley DeWitt said, “When I make my decision tonight, I am thinking of the student who does not have the support they need at home … the student with no internet or poor internet connection … the student crying because they cannot keep up or they are lost or simply do not know what to do … The longer these students are not in person, the larger the gap will be.”
A previous version of the plan to get all Pottsville Area students back to full in-person learning by February 25.
Prior to the vote, the board heard from members of the Pottsville Area teachers union who sounded vehemently opposed to the original plan and probably aren’t too jazzed about this amended plan either, based on the tone of their comments.
Teachers chastised the board for only setting a timeline but having no plan to return to full in-person learning.